Published Date
01 - Dec - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2006
Apart from providing some limited backup power, most UPSes are designed to provide "clean" power. Power disturbances such as surges, spikes and brownouts can be avoided by having a UPS between the mains and your PC. Your PC does have electronic parts in it that are sensitive to surges and spikes, and hardware failure could occur if there are too many of these and you do not have a UPS.

Myths And Realities
UPS batteries can be disposed of along with your daily litter: UPSes contain sealed lead-acid batteries which contain corrosive chemicals. Disposing them carelessly is hazardous to the environment and to the people who might come in contact with it. Most UPS manufacturers offer facilities to collect old batteries; they have a proper mechanism in place for safe disposal.

A UPS can be used instead of a voltage stabiliser: There are scenarios where a voltage stabiliser can be better than a UPS. Though most UPSes have some voltage stabilisation, they prove ineffective where the voltage variation is too large, and it is better to cascade a voltage stabiliser with a UPS for additional safety. The main purpose of a UPS is to provide backup power; voltage stabilisation is an added bonus.

Questions To Ask
What power rating should it be?
For a home PC, look for a UPS with a 500-700 VA rating. Apart from the VA rating, also have a quick glance at the number of power points on the UPS-the higher the better.

What software is provided?
Remember that you'll need power management software supported by your operating system.

How much backup time can I expect from a typical UPS?
Most UPSes can provide a backup time of around 10 to 15 minutes. Contrary to the belief that UPSes are supposed to keep your PC up and running when the mains go down, the reality is, they let you save your work when the power fails. 10 to 15 minutes are more than enough for you to save your work and safely shut down your computer.

Are there any other features besides just power backup?
Apart from providing power backup, a UPS also helps in isolating the PC from various disturbances typically associated with main power. Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) helps a great deal in conditioning the incoming power before being fed to the PC's SMPS. Similarly, most UPSes also come with an application that automatically initiates a scheduled shutdown sequence after saving your work so as to prevent hardware failure.

What about the warranty?
A warranty is very important as far as a UPS goes. Undue delays in replacements can affect business. Some vendors offer onsite warranties, where they replace the batteries at your place. Also look at the terms of warranty cover; if you're planning to use the UPS in a business environment, look for a longer warranty term.

I have an SMPS with a high rating. Do I need a UPS with a higher rating?
Not really. 600 VA should be fine for most systems.

How often should the battery be replaced?
Unless you're experiencing problems like really low backup times-in which case you should get the unit repaired or replaced if it's under warranty-you should take three years as the life of the battery.

Is it necessary to turn off the mains when the computer is shut down, or is it OK to leave it on?
It is all right to leave the mains switch on.

Are the software provided with UPS accurate in their reports?
Not always. You might get pop-ups saying you need to replace the battery; you might get a message saying your battery is providing power to your PC, even when it is not; you could even get a report saying the battery lasted two hours during the last blackout! Don't worry, however; the software will take care of its essential function, which is to shut down the PC properly.

Usage Tips
· Do not overload the UPS by unnecessarily connecting external devices such as printers, which draw heavy power.
· Make a regular check on your UPS by turning off the mains.
· To increase the life of your batteries, discharge them completely once a month.
· Make sure the UPS is properly earthed all the time.

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